Things You Don't See Everyday


Deconstructing a Photograph

The second consideration is how the camera can add quality and interest to your photograph. For example, you can blur the background, distort items for perspective, under-expose for mood, etc.


This camera section describes the sum of options that your camera contributes; aperture, shutter speed, ISO, white balance, focus and lens perspective, to name the most important.

Camera in General

Read this section because it is important to understand the mystery of the modern camera.

A camera is just a light proof box with a hole in it. Think of Ansel Adams' huge view camera (11x14 square inches of film). This had a front standard and a back standard connected by a bellows. This was all supported by a huge tripod. Ansel had his tripod mounted to the top of his station wagon.

The front standard was a wooden or metal board that held the lens for focusing but no focusing mechanism. There was a mechanism to control the amount of light by the size of the hole (aperture - f:stop) and a mechanism to control the timing (shutter). This was all built right into the lens. The whole lens assembly was removable and could be replaced by another assembly from the same or even another lens manufacturer.

The back standard was a frame to hold a ground glass focusing screen. This was very dim according to the modern camera. That is where the black cloth over the head came in. The back and front standards could be moved or tilted independently to achieve focusing and special effects.

The back standard also had an access point in which to slide a film holder with a single sheet of film. So after the whole thing was focused, the shutter speed selected, the aperture selected, it was time to slip in the film holder that had a black piece of tin to protect the film from early exposure.

After the film was inserted properly, the piece of tin was removed and now the ground glass viewer is not functional because the film is now in its place. It is time to click the shutter and then reverse the process.

There was no light balance, light meter, ISO, filter effects, auto-exposure, etc.

The important part of this story is a modern camera is just a box with a hole in it. Everything is still exactly the same, it is just hidden from view.

The digital sensor has replaced film but is located in the same spot. We have added a computer that could have sent the astronauts to the moon. We have chosen to hide everything that was simple. Manufacturers have added tons of buttons and menu items so we can get back to the simplicity we once had. How does that work! We started with three controls and now we have fifty.

Somewhere in all of the confusion, the old controls can still be found on most advanced P&S and on all DSLR cameras. Locate them, learn to use them and then you will understand why your camera is not doing what you asked it to do.

Cameras are pretty simple to operate in manual mode. What? I thought that manual is the absolute hardest mode. Remember, only three controls, sound familiar. All you have to do is set how big you want the hole for the light, set how long you want the shutter to be exposed, turn the focusing ring until the picture is in focus and press the shutter. There is even an old fashion light meter to help you as a guide.

You can use "P" mode (tongue in cheek - professional mode) or "A" mode (aperture). If you let the camera do its thing and it makes a mistake, then how do you fix it. I know what I do, I just switch over to manual which turns off the brilliant computer and lets my puny mind make the right choices. I do shoot in "A" most of the time but I know total control is just a click away.

I have no expectation that you will run out and start to shoot in manual mode but I do expect that you might now have a better appreciation of what a camera really is. It is not a big mystery.

The next sections will describe the options that are available and how to apply them. You are just adding another dimension to the photograph that you started in the composition section of this tutorial.


Your camera's sensor is the interface between the camera and the outside world. Make maximum use of the sensor by shooting at the highest quality setting available. A larger sensor will allow higher ISO settings without developing noise problems. This will allow you to increase the shutter speed to reduce shake.

Larger sensors will allow you to crop for composition without going below the minimum pixels for a good picture. You should figure 300 dpi for printing and 72 dpi for screen viewing.

I will use a sensor size of 3000 x 2000 dpi because of the easy math. This was typical of DSLR cameras only a few years ago. Multiply 2000 by 3000 and you get 6,000,000 (6 MP).

If I divide the 3000 number by 300 I get 10 inches. This means that this camera can give a 10 inch picture without any computer magic to make the picture larger. You can get these figures for your camera in the user manual. Typically, use the larger of the two numbers.

Some people use 240 dpi for printing but this starts to starve the printer of data. The maximum number you should use is 340 only on the highest end of printers. The $1,000.00 type, not the $69.00 Best Buy special of the month.

The computer in the printer will take the single pixel of data (128 red, 128 green, 128 blue) for example and determine what mix of the 4 to 10 colors the computer can draw on to produce the expected color. The printer actually deposits multiple tiny dots of ink to one spot on the printout. These dots can of course be different colors, but they can also be different sizes. So you could have five or six different colors and sizes deposited on each printout location.

Your eye just isn't sophisticated enough to see the individual spots. This is a good thing because digital photography is not a continuous blend of color. Of course, neither is a movie, it is just a bunch of frames.

Camera Types

High End DSLR's

High end DSLR's have full size sensors - think 35mm type size. 24mm by 36mm. (note: 25.4 mm per inch). This gives the highest resolution and clarity possible. The top Nikon is 24.5 MP for Nikon D3x series cameras.

The large sensor size will allow for much larger pixel wells. This is because of the large area in which to drill the individual pixel wells. Yes, it is a hole. The larger pixel well is the secret to minimal ISO noise.

High end DSLR photographers can boost the ISO up to 3200, 6400, or even 12,800 without experiencing excessive electronic noise. A Nikon D3s can even push this to 102,400 with acceptable noise. ISO 6400 means an advantage of 6 f:stops so the camera can shoot at a much faster shutter speed without the noise that is experienced on a P&S above ISO 400.

There is no "free lunch", high end DSLRs are very heavy on both weight and wallet. Think $8,000.00 for the D3x and $5,500.00 for the D3s without a lens. Add a couple of lenses at $2,000 to $10,000. You will also experience 5 to 6 pounds of camera and lens to lug around. Most of the pros will carry two cameras. This puts this camera in the domain of the stout professional photographer or the "I want it, I need it, I can't live without it club", and I won't ever admit it's heavy.

DSLR cameras shoot in RAW format and everyone should be using RAW.

Entry, mid-range, and semi-pro DSLRs

The cost of mid-range cameras are more affordable than high end DSLRs. Prices range from $600.00 to $2,000.00. They are typically lighter weight as the price becomes lower. You can use lighter lenses built specifically for the typically smaller sensor (DX format for Nikon) or you can use the more expensive and heavy (FX format for Nikon).

The reason these cameras are cheaper is the dust and water resistant seals are reduced but still adequate for normal use on the entry level versions. Also, various electronics are missing such as an internal focusing motor built into the camera. The cheaper the camera the higher use of plastic. This means the camera will not last as long as the high end but the results are still excellent with limitations. The shutter may only last 100,000 cycles instead of 500,000. They also don't drop very well if you want to try it.

The sensor size is still considerable in the 18 mm x 24 mm range. It would be possible to make this a 24 MP camera but the actual pixel holes would have to be much smaller and this defeats the purpose of having a large sensor. Simple logic, the surface has 3/4 inch of real estate. When you drill 24 million holes you will find that the holes must be smaller than they would if you had 1 and 1/2 inches. The pixel well size also competes with some electronics, filters, and other stuff that is highly technical.

Enough said on technology. I can say that when the hole is too small to hold the electricity the sensor collected, then the electricity has to go somewhere. Usually the excess electricity bleeds into the next pixel well thus changing its value. This is called noise.

There is no "free lunch". There is another penalty for having a smaller sensor with a full size lens. There is a 1.5 multiplication factor that must be applied to the lens. For example, an old standard 50 mm lens now becomes a 75 mm or a little telephoto. This is great for longer lenses but is very bad on the wide angle end where your super wide 10 mm lens now becomes 15 mm. Still enough to get your toes in the picture but not what you paid for.

All DSLR models shoot in RAW format and everyone should be using RAW.

Point and Shoot (P&S)

Point and shoot cameras have a small sensor. It is in the range of 5 mm by 6 mm. Within a 6 MP range the pixel wells are still OK as far as size. The size of the modern P&S of 16 MP makes the pixel wells so small the noise is a considerable enemy. Computers can figure out when noise happened but it takes considerable computing power to make the whole thing work without noise and then the computer is doing some smart guessing.

The P&S camera also uses a very small lens and it is generally not interchangeable. The problem with a physically small lens is that everything from near to far is in fairly sharp focus. This is good for people who have trouble focusing but is very bad if you want to blur the background.

The last problem with P&S is that most do not shoot in the newer RAW format. They only use the "lossy" JPG format. This means the camera has determined which pixels that it thinks you don't care about and deletes them.

P&S shoot cameras are truly marvels at what they do. Just be aware that the camera may be fixing something that you don't want fixed.

Camera Controls

Camera controls using Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO are designed so that moving one of the controls one full notch (one stop) will require that you move one of the other controls one full notch in the opposite direction. This will allow the photographer to change these three controls to make the photograph have a different desirable look and feel.

I will not explain the composition techniques used in the following examples. See the Composition and Wow tutorials. All of the following photographs were taken with Nikkor lenses and the lens length is in DX format (multiply by 1.5 for 35 mm equivalent). Most were taken with high end amateur lenses. Not the cheapest and truly not the most expensive.


Aperture is the size of the hole that allows light to reach the sensor. Aperture controls “depth of field”, bigger number - more of the picture from front to back will be in sharp focus. Each “f” stop is 1/2 or twice the light. 1.4, 2.0, 2.8, 4.0, 5.6, 8.0, 11, 16, 22, 32. These number don't look like they are doubles or halves but they are based on the aperture area. Look at Google if you need to know the entire math. (Start with doubles 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, etc and then round off the square root of each number 1, 1.4, 2, 2.8, 4, etc.).

This shot was taken at ISO 200, 10-24 mm super wide angle lens at 12mm, f:16, and 1/60 of a second. Notice the sharpness of the whole scene with the camera sitting right on the ground.

Even the railing is in the scene at almost 170 degrees straight up. This was at 12 mm instead of the possible 10 mm. You can see the small lighthouse at the end of the breakwall still in sharp focus.

You can see all kinds of possibilities with this type of lens. A flower that is three inches in front of the lens will take up a quarter of the photograph. Lots of fun. You can walk up to people and make their nose super large (how fast can you run) but it is great for flower beds where the front flowers are much larger than normal but the whole bed will be in focus.

There is also a speciality lens sibling that is 10.5 mm and is circular in the horizontal plane. There is not a lot of need for this lens, but it is great for just playing around with kids or entire football stadiums.

This shot was taken at ISO 400, 16-85 mm lens at 16mm, f:10, and 1/60 of a second. This is a medium wide telephoto zoom lens and is used for many general purpose photographs. I used the ISO of 400 because I wanted a little more room in the shutter speed.

Also, I knew I wanted to convert this photograph to black and white so I wanted a contrasty picture so the clouds would stand out. The ISO of 400 would add a bit of grainy noise that would enhance the effect.

Notice how much of the picture is in perfect focus. This is what a wide angle at high f:stop (aperture) will do for your photography. I normally set the aperture that I want for each scene because it will allow me to control the depth of field. I use the aperture setting even if I want the slowest shutter speed possible. I just set the aperture at it's highest value so I know I will get the slowest shutter speed.

This shot was taken at ISO 100, 18-200 mm lens at 150mm, f:20, and 1/6 of a second. This type of shot requires a completely different setup than the last picture. I want a very slow shutter speed so I selected the slowest ISO of 100 that my camera will allow. This gave me the shutter speed capability of 1/6 of a second and a mandatory tripod. The 150 mm telephoto gave me a shallower depth of field so I set it very high at f:20. This is enough to keep the green in focus but I let the waterfall blur a little due to depth of field which enhanced the ultra slow shutter speed effect. This is the little four foot high waterfall at Dow Gardens.

This shot was taken at ISO 400, 28-200 mm lens at 150mm, f:8, and 1/320 of a second. I set the ISO at 400 just to give me some extra shutter speed in the woods.

This was shot with my entry level 28-200 mm lens and the picture is a little softer due to the cheaper glass. The picture really looks just fine being a little soft. I used a reasonable telephoto so I can take things five feet away without leaving the established trail. This setting gave me ample depth of field control around the leaf but nicely blurred the background leaves.

This shot was taken at ISO 200, 70-300 mm lens at 300mm, f:5.6, and 1/50 of a second. This shot was taken at 7 feet at a very low aperture. This is Myrtle the Turtle at a Seminole Indian airboat stop in the Everglades.

What happened to the depth of field. Actually there was enough for the turtle to be in focus and everything else was lost in the black water background. You can see a little blur starting in the upper flipper just to show you how shallow the depth of field is for this lens.

Something to remember, if your camera won't do what you want then just hide the problem. The other thing to keep in mind is a telephoto does not mean that you have to be a half mile away taking pictures of eagles. You can do just fine a few feet away.

This shot was taken at ISO 200, 70-300 mm lens at 300mm, f:11, and 1/500 of a second. This lens is one of the high end amateur lenses. It is really razor sharp but still not as sharp as the pro version 70-200 mm at 2.5 the cost. This picture looks just like a painting printed on matte paper using 13x19 paper.

The background is snow so all I had to do was worry about depth of field for the mallard. It also required a little spot removal because of you know what. Please note that f:11 is the sweet spot for sharpness for this lens. Every lens has a sweet spot.

Ultra expensive lenses extend the sweet spot throughout the entire f:stop range. The results are just a thing of beauty for the discerning photographer to be able to shoot with impunity.

The mallard was relatively close at 10 feet. These mallards are wild farm version of a true mallard. You will see them all over Michigan in ponds throughout the year. They flock at Port Huron around March 1st under the bridge as the snow melts. They are looking for bugs and any handouts. Give them something and they will be your friend for quite a while.

This shot was taken at ISO 800, 105 mm micro lens, f:57, and 1/60 of a second. What on earth is it. It is a moth sitting on a leaf. Consider the tremendously narrow depth of field on this lens. You can see the leaf is actually out of focus with the moth's eyes being just an inch away. There is even more blur in the wings that are only a 1/2 inch behind the moth's head.

It is impossible to focus this lens automatically when you are just a few inches away from your target. Just breathing changes the focus and the lens computer starts to hunt for a new focus spot. I always put the camera on a mono-pod and manual focus. Then I just move the camera back and forth and click the shutter when the bug comes into focus. Consider also, this was taken at f:57. Bet you didn't know f:stops would go that high.

Can you tell this was taken with a flash from 6 inches away. It was, actually two flashes that sit on the end of the lens and are TTL controlled. Highly specialized stuff and a pro class lens can do wonderful things.

Surprisingly, this lens does an excellent job of portrait photography, it just focuses extremely close with a ratio of 1:1 (Google this if you want to know).

Aperture Problems

You may be starting to understand that there aren't pictures controlled by aperture only and some controlled by shutter speed only. If you set one, the other setting reacts accordingly. You should be aware of what the left hand is doing if you are controlling the right hand. They go together even if you ignore the other.

You may wish to set the camera to underexpose for a little mood change in a waterfall scene. Typically this mode will set the shutter speed for you automatically when you set the aperture.

So, if you underexpose two stops with aperture then the darn computer will reset the camera shutter by two stops. The smart camera will just override your exposure changing the relationship with a slower shutter, but you will not get the mood with the chosen underexpose. So, if you were exposing for a certain slow shutter speed for a waterfall, then you just shot yourself in the foot, and you still didn't get the underexposure that you wanted.

This is where manual can come in. One way is to look at the camera settings for aperture and shutter, change to manual and set them the same, except set the aperture two stops underexposed.

The other option is one of those extra buttons meant to make life simpler. It is called compensation. You can tell the camera to go ahead and use the original values but add the two stop change from the compensation button before you shoot.

Shutter Speed

Shutter speed controls the length of time the sensor is exposed in seconds. Shutter speed controls motion. 1/1000 stop helicopter blade - 1/15 will blur waterfalls. Each click is 1/2 or twice the light. 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60.

My Nikon and many other DSLR cameras use a shutter that looks like two barn doors. One is positioned in front of the barn door and the other next to the door. When the shutter clicks then the first barn door opens and now you can see into the barn or the sensor is exposed if you wish. When the allotted time is up then the second door is closed. Everything is then reset to the beginning for a new picture.

At least, that is how it used to work. As the demand for speed increased the engineers fixed the barn doors so they open vertically. There was only an inch to travel in the 35 mm cameras up and down instead of 1 and 1/2 inches sideways. The shutter really didn't have to go faster to get more speed, it just didn't have to travel as far. My Nikon goes to 1/8000.

At one time most cameras were range finders and the shutter was in the lens as a diaphragm and was very fast. The range finder could synchronize at 1/500 of a second. It doesn't work that well on the DSLR.

If you set the aperture mode, the DSLR will synchronize at 1/60 of a second. If you set the camera with the shutter mode then the camera will synchronize at 1/250 of a second or on some a little faster.

You can also treat the camera and the flash as two different pieces of equipment. Turn on that difficult manual mode. Just set the shutter at 1/250 of a second and set the aperture so the background becomes darker. Then set the flash so it lights the foreground object leaving the background subdued. You can now darken the outdoors and let the flash light your subject. Cool.


ISO controls the amplification applied to the sensor. Think "boom box", if turned up to high, all your hear is racket. ISO does not add anything to the picture but can cause noise if set too high. Boosting the ISO a small amount allows flexibility in setting aperture and shutter speed. 50, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600. Each "stop" you turn up the ISO will allow you to modify the shutter or aperture by one stop.

Normally, select the lowest value you can for the highest quality, but sometimes noise is better than a shaky picture. You can fix noise with software to some degree by you can't fix shake. If you have to get the picture of the UFO then noise is easier to correct. On second thought, all UFO pictures are supposed to be shaky and blurry.


The quality setting on your camera is associated with two or three main file types. JPG, RAW, and TIFF. You will find all three settings on high-end cameras and sometimes all three on other cameras as a selling gimmick. It is difficult to tell the quality in a little 4x5 inch picture, it will start to show with 8x10 inches, and is really obvious at 13x19 inches.

These settings do not do add anything to your picture but they can sure destroy it. They don't add focus, beauty, saturation, or exposure. They are just settings that tell the computer how much data to keep. Certain functions like printing require a certain amount of data. When you don't have enough data then your whole picture will degrade.

You will also find several different size options under JPG. Use the highest setting unless you are creating tiny web thumbnails. I know it takes extra space but your picture will be better because the processors have more data to work with. You may only expect to put the picture on the web but if you ever want to print it then you will need more.

JPG file formats are considered "lossy" because space was at one time considered premium and this format makes the picture smaller. Still the JPG format persists. The computer in the camera or in the editor will process the photograph by doing a search for things the viewer won't miss and will then throw them away. This is why it is called "lossy".

The computer will allow you to choose how brutal you want the process to be. If the setting is extremely brutal then the new 24 mega-pixel camera you just bought can create a picture of 10 kilo-bytes. What happened, the computer just threw away 98% of your picture but you saved a lot of space on your card. Just buy the biggest card you can buy and save your files in RAW.

If you are slightly insane you can Google "Discrete Cosine Curve Fitting" and maybe "Fourier Transforms" for an evening of rollicking fun. Just suffice it to say every time you make a change to a JPG file it will go through this process of throwing stuff away. It does not take long and all you have left is junk. Normally, use at least a setting of 9 for JPG quality. Don't save your intermediate work files as JPG, if you are using Adobe then use the PSD format.

RAW is relatively new but is simply an unprocessed file that is saved in the camera. Remember all of the controls like sharpening, exposure, WB, vivid, and so on. Well, now they didn't really do anything. The file is not even a color picture at this point.

The concept is that the processor in your laptop is much more powerful than the processor in your camera, let the laptop do all of the work. So, between opening the RAW file and telling the laptop to process the photo, you can reset things like exposure or WB, just like you could have before you clicked the shutter. It is just like time travel, you can go back and shoot the picture with correct settings, you do time travel don't you.

The RAW file consists of an almost black and white image and all kinds of information about the camera and how you took the picture. The laptop computer will then take the almost black and white image, the settings on the camera, and the settings you overrode and then complete the processing.

If you are still insane, then you can look up Bayer Pattern or CMOS processing. You only get one size with this option which is usually the mega-pixel size of the camera and then half again. So a 12 mega-pixel camera will generate something less than 18 mega-pixels.

TIFF is not used very much but this format saves everything. If you have a 24 mega-pixel camera then the resulting file is 72 mega-pixel. One 24 mega-pixel worth for red, another 24 for green, and another 24 for blue. Pro's will use TIFF for a final image in their workflow. Capture in RAW, process in Adobe PSD, save in TIFF for the client.

White Balance

White balance is used to change the color cast to match normal light. Morning and evening have a red cast along with tungsten lights. Mixing tungsten and white light is not good.

Selecting auto white balance on the camera will do a fairly good job. White balance can also be easily corrected using the RAW processor . You are shooting in RAW aren't you. If you select the "light bulb" icon which stands for tungsten light, the computer will add more blue to the picture.

If you take the camera outside with the "light bulb" icon selected then your picture will end up very blue. Again, you can fix this in RAW, but if you shoot in JPG then it is really to late to correct properly.

If you select the "cloudy" icon which in normally bluish light, the camera will add some red to your picture. This is bad if the sun is high in the sky because you now have a reddish, brownish tinge. This setting (this is a cheat) can be used to enhance the red sunset.

Scene Modes

Scene modes are just pre-set shooting settings that are some combination of the above. They are good for the beginner but not for anyone who wants to know what is going on. Look at your user manual or Google "scene modes" and "camera name" to figure out what might be happening when you select a scene mode.

I only use the following; “P” for programmed, “A” for aperture, “S” for shutter, “M” for manual. Normally, I use aperture and manual 90% of the time. These settings may be hidden on your P&S cameras but they might be accessible. Look in your manual.

The Lens

Different lenses are used for different purposes. I have included some of the common length lenses. The length shown is normally the pro length but you can figure out what you have or need, based on this average. You can see examples of pictures taken with my lenses under the Aperture section.

There is typically a pro version, an advanced amateur version, and an entry level version. There is a visual difference between the various class ranges for the same lens. You can buy a Nikon 135 mm lens for a couple of hundred dollars for an entry level lens or you can buy a 135 mm lens for a couple of thousand dollars. All that means is the box they came in can be the same size. Exotic glass, number of glass elements, diameter of the lens, and the amount of flaws in the lens all result in a dramatic difference in the results.

When do you want to use a different lens? When you can't do what you want with the one on the camera.

Think about being six feet from a group of whoever and you have a long telephoto on the camera. You are nominated to be the official photographer just because you have a black camera and a big lens. The first consideration is that most long telephotos won't even focus at six feet. The second is you only got Fred and Mary in the picture and there were ten people in the front row. So you back up about 50 feet and now you can see everyone in the first row. Success. Not really. The group is also ten people deep so only the people in the first row are in focus. Also, you will find that you must shoot at f:5.6 because of the low light but you will also see that you must shoot at 1/2 second and you are pretty shaky. I can go on and on with the Shaggy Dog story. The point is choose your equipment to meet the needs of the photograph.

A 35 mm wide angle lens at f:1.8 will give plenty of light and have good depth. Now comes the big question, did you buy the one for a few hundred dollars or the one for a few thousand.

If you buy a DSLR and a few lenses then you will probably stay with that manufacturer. I can't use my Nikon lenses on a Canon. I have an investment in lenses so I will stay with Nikon.

Depending on your needs, the 24mm to 70mm range is a very good place to start. Most people think the big telephoto is the best choice but it is really a speciality lens. If you are a soccer mom or dad, or take pictures of rogue elephants then you will need the large telephoto. If you are into grand landscapes like the Grand Canyon then the wide angle should be your second choice.

You can buy a lens that is a zoom (has a telephoto effect) or a prime focus with no zoom effect. Your zoom is manual in a prime lens by walking back and forth. Some think the prime lens is sharper but it might be debatable in the high end. One thing for sure is the prime lens has a lower minium f:stop from f:1.4 to f:2.8. The typical amateur zoom lens might average f:4 and move to f:5.6 at its highest. There are three stops between f:2.0 and f:5.6. This extra could be applied to the shutter speed.

Wide Angle Lens - 14 mm-24 mm

There is danger of getting your toes in the picture using a 14 mm lens with a full size sensor. This type of lens gives a tremendous wide angle view but it also causes distortions depending on quality of lens, angle of verticals and the horizon, etc. If you take a picture of a person close up with 14 mm, the person's nose will look twice normal size. Once you get the hang of this lens, it may spend most of the time on the camera. Try placing your camera just in front of a flower bed at about 6 inches. It will make the first flowers extra large but this distortion is really neat if done right.

Mid Range Lens - 24 mm-70 mm

This is the normal range for most amateur and advanced amateur photographers. The old 50 mm lens was considered the normal lens because it does not have a distortion effect of wide angle or a telephoto flattening effect. So this lens will give a little telephoto or a little wide angle.

Telephoto Lens - 70 mm-200 mm

When you can't get close then pull out the telephoto lens. You can buy longer lenses but the price will increase rapidly. As the length gets longer the depth of field effect narrows for the same distance to the subject. So, something in the range of 100 mm is considered a nice portrait lens. 200 mm should be used when a fence won't allow you to get close or common sense will tell you that your target can eat you.

Micro Lens - 105 mm f:2.8

These lenses are highly versatile. They can be used for a light telephoto or they can be used for extreme close-up. Think seeing the facets in a butterfly's eye. If used at f:2.8 for a close-up the focus is so narrow that it is near impossible to focus. I typically use mine at f:11 with a smart flash.

What did we learn

Choose your camera wisely. You can buy too much technology and not be able to produce quality pictures. You can use shutter and aperture to create special effects. Glass is probably the single most important part of the camera. It is possible to spend much more money on each piece of glass than the camera.

The camera does not add anywhere near the flexibility of composition. It does give you the ability to create neat effects to an already well composed picture. The higher quality lens will give you a much sharper image.

Editing Aids

Use levels, saturation, sharpening, white balance. You cannot solve motion or depth of field problems with an editor.